This week: 17.5 miles
to date total: 37.5
verse: Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us.”
Every Saturday morning I meet the Team in Training group for our weekly “long run”. That means every Friday? I am nauseous with the anticipation of the next run, the run that will be longer and farther than I have ever run before. It means every Friday night as I flit about our room, laying out my clothes and shoes, setting the alarm clock…I am also silently fretting.
I’m not going to say anything, however. It can’t be helped, I need to be strong, gut it out. Yet, somehow? John knows. He insists that it isn’t very difficult, that I can be read like the proverbial open book. Apparently? When under stress? I chew my bottom lip and clench my fists and sigh involuntarily and get a furrow in my brow that is deep enough to drive a Camry through.
See? I have it ALL under control, and am master of my emotions. clearly.
So no surprise that it doesn’t take much of his gentle prodding before the dam bursts:
“I have never run that far! I don’t know if I can!”
and he generously gives me a little pep talk that I never listen to, nor believe. Because obviously, he loves me and has to believe in my potential and support my dreams and yada yada yada.
I dismiss all that because I happen to know he takes out his contacts before bed. He can’t see clearly, just how old and tired, jello-jiggly and turtle slow his wife actually IS.
John sees my eyes glaze over and jokes he is just going to make a little recording, to save him the trouble from here until October, and it will repeat over and over:
you can do it.
you are stronger than you think.
I believe in you.
you are too hard on yourself.
you’ll make it and have energy to spare, I just know it.
Then Saturday comes, and I get up at 6:30 (ugh) and I put on spandex (yikes) and drive 30 minutes to a park I am unfamiliar with, (I’ll get lost) and smile awkwardly at strangers who are on my “team” (I don’t fit in here) and then,
and it’s hard, and its long, and it hurts and I pray a LOT and try not to think about how 26 miles will feel when 7 is so daunting and yet, look-look! I AM actually doing it, and see, this isn’t as hard as last week and even my breathing is coming easier and wow, no shin splints, so those stretches must be working after all, and the women panting near me aren’t strangers after the first 3 miles, and we do get lost on the trails but we find our way back to the Start and I didn’t die?! So now it’s over and the Coach apologizes, they marked the course wrong, so sorry. We actually did MORE, and you are seriously telling me…
I JUST RAN 8 MILES?!!!
I get in the car, and I have to call him right now and through my tears of relief and giddy laughter, the morning story is spilled out and he is listening with a silent smile and I see him in my mind. I picture the familiar way he leans, with one hip against our kitchen counter, and I know he is still wearing his blue bathrobe. I know his hair is mussed, but only on the right side, where he sleeps. That he got up, still tired, to make waffles for our ravenous sons, who are leaning together over the comics and eating waffles faster than the griddle heats. I know that, out of raw love for that littlest one, Dad mixed up a second, gluten-free batter. I see the newspaper all spread out and smell coffee beans and can almost feel the warm June sun streaming into the window, trying to get in there to all that laughter and love. My car is pointed towards it all, racing towards rest and comfort, towards home. I feel the reality-that the joy of what I did alone isn’t complete until I share it with this man and the cell phone isn’t enough. John listens quietly to a river of words tumbling out of me, to my awe and shocked delight at eight miles, and his answer is slow.
I stretch myself out, trying to soak up all the confidence he pours into one quiet sentence.
“Of course you did. I knew you would.”